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Interview with cartoonist Mary Zins

Mary Zins is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist based in the Pacific Northwest in the US. She studied illustration, design and fine art at Cleveland State University and the Visual Communications Center at Tri-C College. She has worked as a graphic artist for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and a graphic designer for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Her work has been published in a series of Show Me How books by Weldon Owen Publishers, along with other print publications. Her cartoons have also been published on Toons Mag and Cartoon Movement, where she is a frequent contributor. Let’s talk with Mary Zins.

Arifur Rahman: Mary Zins, first of all, tell us about yourself 🙂 

Mary Zins: Most of my life I have lived in Ohio (northeast US), where I studied illustration and graphic design at Cleveland State University and worked as a graphic artist and designer for both the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest 11 years ago, I have worked mainly as a freelance illustrator and just recently as a cartoonist. I am a member of the Union of World Cartoonists, Cartoon Movement, United Sketches and Le Crayon. My work has been exhibited in many international exhibitions and has received several international awards.

Arifur Rahman: How and where did you learn to draw? How long have you been working as a cartoonist?

Mary Zins: I have been drawing since childhood. My father was a commercial artist and cartoonist, and I have three brothers who are gifted artists. So art seeped into my bloodstream at an early age. Although I took art classes in college, my real classroom was in the natural world. For many years I spent much of my free time drawing from life Plein air in zoos, history museums, nature preserves, and botanical gardens.
I have worked professionally in the art fields of illustration and design for over 17 years. I have been cartooning for about three years.

Arifur Rahman: What work do you most enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

Mary Zins: I have been a wildlife artist for many years and it is what I most enjoy doing. From my live sketching at the zoo to detailed drawings of taxidermy at the museum, and to the paintings in my studio; the animal kingdom has provided such inspiration for me. There is nothing more beautiful and soulful than that which is truly wild. It is why I incorporate animals in so many of my cartoons.

Arifur Rahman: Name three cartoonists or artists you are inspired by? How have they inspired you?

Mary Zins: I am very inspired by Susan Seddon Boulet. I first was exposed to her artwork decades ago and was deeply moved by it. Her unique use of oil pastels and ink in creating her ethereal imagery is so original. It was the first time I realized the power of symbolism in art.
I’m a big fan of Pawel Kuczynski’s work, his combination of realistic paintings and strong symbolism is quite powerful. I feel as if I’m peering directly into the world of dreams.
One of my favorite cartoonists is Cristina Bernazzani – such outstanding talent, in both skill and subject.


Arifur Rahman: Why did you decide to be an artist? 🙂

Mary Zins: Well, frankly I was miserable doing anything else. Although making a living as an artist is not an easy road, for it is paved with instability, without financial security and material gain; it gives me so much fulfillment that the benefits outweigh.

Arifur Rahman: What is your aim in life? Where you want to see yourself after ten years?

Mary Zins: My goal is to transition from commercial work to doing more symbolic art and cartooning. This art form I find to hold such meaning and potential.

Arifur Rahman: How can we build a better world with our cartoons?

Mary Zins: The use of symbols in art is, I believe, one of the most powerful modes of communicating truth. The realm of the unconscious communicates through symbols, not words, and thus affects the viewer in a very deep way. It precedes language and is universal to all humanity, regardless of race, creed, and culture. Therefore, as artists, the use of symbols has the unique capacity to inspire, provoke, incite and transform. The word can reach the mind and heart, but it is the image that touches the soul.

Arifur Rahman: Thank you, Mary Zins, for your time. It was wonderful to know from you. We are looking forward to seeing more wonderful cartoons from you. From Toons Mag we wish you good luck and success. 

Read also:

Interview with caricaturist Denis Lopatin

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Written by Arifur Rahman

Cartoonist, Animator, Illustrator, and Publisher of Toons Mag.

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